Journalism journey

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By Peter Rey Bautista

All In Good Time

Friday, March 7, 2014


I WAS recently honored to share some inputs to students of the College of Arts and Communications of University of the Philippines Baguio upon the invite of my Manang, post-grad classmate and fellow Sun.Star columnist Linda Cariño.

I was also in the company of Prof. Vicky Rico, editor of Ti Similla the last 30 years. We had such a great time sharing our experiences with the students. Mine spans only 3 years so Juan can surmise the level I may have in this industry. But despite this, it was such a wonderful sharing with the students.

My share of memories in that classroom was not something I would brag about. Funny how this time I get to return to UP Baguio in different circumstances. A long time ago if there was a persona non grata, that would have been me. Haha. These days I get to speak before every Juan and share my experiences with them. Oh and I do get letters as an alumni. Wow! I feel like Erap who now gets recognized by Ateneo.

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As speakers we were given 20 minutes each to speak and time for some questions. After my sharing I got a few interesting questions from the students.

One in particular was about the death of the newspaper. I gave my opinion on the matter and expressed it has been very difficult to maintain. The paper is dead. Technology has now overtaken that hard copy of a newspaper. Facebook, Yahoo and Google have all but eliminated the want for Juan to buy a newspaper. Information is now more accessible to every Juan. I can now learn of an actual event just a few minutes after it has happened.

With a newspaper the best is the next day, especially for Sunstar, being the only local daily. Worse for the weekend papers as it would have been old news already when the paper is out. A lot of sacrifice is given for a daily newspaper from the editorial to its production then distribution.

The paper is dead. Why? A paper lives all because of advertising. Actual sales is irrelevant. The advertisements keep it alive. But compared to weekend papers an advertiser would rather see their ad for a whole week than in a day. I mean no offense to the weekend papers when I say that theirs is old news ours is new. But it is also ads that keep them going.

And with advertisers, newspapers need not worry as long as it keeps on coming. But let me express this bit.

Advertisers like the local airlines have stopped as we have no airport here. The mining companies are also cautious at this time especially those found in the area as they are containing also their own problems. And that is where the next problem comes in.

Ads from the mall and mining companies may be seen as a "buy out" with the paper, a PR. Awkward, of course. Imagine receiving a whole page ad from an entity that is into some controversy. If we accept their ad and print it, it follows that we "soften" up on them, too. If we go the other route, expect a "boycott" from their PR department for ads in our paper.

These are some of the problems I face, striking the balance of information and transparency will not bring food on the table. Sorry but for some this is the avenue they take, they become the "mouthpiece" and paint that rosy picture and get paid. Others get one over these so called "catch" and milk them dry for that "image". So if we succumb to any of these there is still doubt among some readers.

I once asked the editors of Sunstar to cut me some slack as elections were nearing, their reply to me was, "Sorry, we have to be fair.” And if it went my way, "Nabayaran mga yan kaya siguro binili nya yung dyaryo" would be the remark. Others I'm sure will turn a blind eye for survival reasons. We will continue no matter what. But still how do we continue to live?

Simple, believe that we are not to make money for the paper. We live because we serve. We wish to give people information that they deserve. Not old news but what comes.

My dad, the publisher, has asked me to give it up the last years. I asked him to stay and hold on as there was an election. News is important in making or breaking some Juan. But after the election believes me, the worst "numbers" will be expected, too.

And that is this year. Still we move on. It is not the money it is never about making money. I recently sat down with my staff to hear the "bad" news. As expected Juan would feel like giving up.

There of course are solutions and answers, one of which is to go with the times, go online. Yes we are, still many would just get it for FREE instead, anywhere and everywhere.

One bit of information I got kept me inspired with continuing on. This lady I met in Australia had a different take on her online daily news compared to her "old" paper. She said, "I don't like the news and columns that I get from my tablet, it is just like eating a burger and not tasting the mustard, lettuce, onion and pickles, maybe a little of the tomato and ketchup but that’s it". I ask her to explain what she just meant, and she tells me, "I miss out on all the small details and side stories that I get from my trusty old paper.”

I get the picture, I now understand. I'm now treading a new path, a path that previously I despised and was afraid to take. As I am now taking this path I get a clearer picture of why I am taking it. The path that I feared is now a path that can take me anywhere.

I do get some admiration in a different manner from my previous one. It was just plastic then. I paid to look good now I just bring out the best of people. The best I say, because people are now who they are and not some Juan else.

We are the messengers and people respect us for that. It is not about making money. It is all about wanting to share what every Juan has to know.

I thank the Lord for showing me this direction that I now take. It made me realize how important this journey is and what it is all about.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 08, 2014.

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